WASHINGTON (4/14/11)--This is a critically important time for credit unions nationwide to band together and use their "big voice" to continue calling on legislators to stop, study and start over on interchange fee cap regulations, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney emphasized during a Wednesday audio conference call with credit unions around the nation. Around 1,000 credit unions took part in the call. An archived recording of the 30-minute call will soon be posted on CUNA’s home page for those who were unable to participate yesterday. Cheney during the call noted the pending July 21 effective date for the interchange provisions, and said credit unions are at a critical junction because "the time window for action is relatively short." He added that credit unions, through this current interchange fee cap battle, are in effect fighting to save free checking--an important message for credit union members and other consumers to know. A key element of the current grassroots push is the "Call on Congress" campaign launched by CUNA and the leagues that provides a toll-free phone number, website and other resources so that credit unions can mobilize their members in urging Congress to "stop, study and start" over on interchange, Cheney explained. Two separate pieces of legislation, one in the House and one in the Senate, would delay the effective date of the interchange action. These bills would also require regulators to study the impact that the interchange fee cap would have on consumers, financial institutions, and merchants. The House interchange delay legislation was introduced by Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and currently has 78 co-sponsors. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced the interchange delay legislation in the Senate. That bill has 16 co-sponsors. Members of Congress will return at the end of this week to their home districts for a two-week work period, and Cheney said that this presents a key opportunity for credit union advocates to urge their respective legislators to support an interchange implementation delay. Credit union representatives should thank the legislators who are supporting an interchange implementation delay, and ask those who have not yet signed on as co-sponsors to do so. He urged credit union representatives to reach out to members of Congress in their home districts and schedule meetings during the break. "There is really no better way to talk to a member of Congress than face-to-face," Cheney emphasized. Outreach and education efforts are being made through the leagues, individual credit unions, and social media outlets. CUNA, credit unions and leagues are collaborating on district-based letter writing campaigns, and posters, sample letters and other materials have also been distributed to help credit unions push this effort forward. Cheney during the call noted that credit unions that have engaged their own members to help with outreach have seen as much as 20% of those members take action. "That is tremendous," he said. CUNA and the leagues' own legislative advocacy actions so far have helped credit unions generate nearly 93,000 contacts to Congress nationwide, Cheney added. To join CUNA's Call to Action on interchange, use the resource link.